In 1991, Bob Dylan was given a lifetime achievement award at the Grammy Awards, which to me is sort of like a special on Lenny Bruce hosted by Carrot Top. Amid the first Gulf War Distraction (as Bill Hicks called it), Dylan wandered out muttered his way through Masters of War, although I’m pretty sure not even people familiar with the song had any idea what it was. Afterward, he came out and muttered the following acceptance speech.
“You know my daddy he didn’t leave me too much… He was a very simple man… But he did tell me one thing, he said, ‘Son’ …He said so many things you know…but he did say, ‘you know it’s possible to become so defiled in this world that even your own mother and father will abandon you. But if that happens, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your own ways.’ Thank you.”
He was immediately mocked as if he were senile. Saturday Night Live had him caricatured on Weekend Update with a mock Tom Petty on hand to translate. Was I the only one who thought it was the coolest Grammy appearance ever? Here’s a guy getting a lifetime achievement award from a bunch of squares who never gave him the time of day and Bob’s pranking them with barely interpretable punk blast against the war and the establishment. He probably felt like he was still in high school and flipping off his teachers when they turned their backs.
Here’s a story from 2004 that warms my heart and makes me glad to be alive. “Last week, radio talk shows in Colorado were abuzz over a local punk band’s plans to cover ‘Masters of War’ at a Friday night talent show at Boulder High School. Rumors about the band, which drolly calls itself the Coalition of the Willing, prompted calls to the Secret Service in Denver because of alleged threats against President Bush.”